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Don’t Count Out the Coupon Clippers

“I have a coupon for 25 percent off that expires soon, so we better shop today.”

I often hear my wife say these words.

Indeed, when we hit our local CVS, she heads straight for the coupon-dispensing machine. She scouts the newspaper and Internet for coupons on just about anything we’re going to buy. So are coupons a marketing tool for today’s marine dealerships?

The use of coupons in retailing is not dead. In fact, research shows that the number of Americans who use coupons regularly tops 90 percent. Even in the midst of our digital age, the chance to save money still appeals to consumers when the method to do so is the good, old paper coupon.

Experts contend that the psychology of coupons plays into a fundamental truth about consumers: They love to save money. Even if they are only saving a dollar or two, it’s perceived as value they didn’t have before using the coupon, and value they can apply to other things.

A Claremont University study discovered that receiving and using coupons decreases stress and increases a person’s oxytocin levels — which are associated with happiness — by 38 percent. That, the study contends, is a larger increase than kissing. Who knew?

Moreover, 80 percent of shoppers who use coupons say they feel smarter. Findings such as these confirm why coupons are so popular no matter the consumer. And the changing face of the coupon user may surprise you. Affluent shoppers — a dealer’s customer base — were even more likely to use coupons.

Households with incomes of $100,000 or more are twice as likely to use coupons as those earning less than $35,000. College-degree holders are also twice as likely to use coupons as those who did not graduate from high school. And last year, consumers fueled a 63 percent surge in coupon redemption.

Let’s face it, economic conditions are pushing us all to join the society of coupon-clippers. With the increasing need to seek out business, the question isn’t whether people look for and use coupons, but how they can get them.

The study found that, overall, 78 percent of those surveyed clipped coupons from the Sunday newspapers. But 61 percent of respondents also indicated they use digital coupons. It’s notable that age is a factor. For example, 85 percent of those age 45 and older cited clipping from newspapers, while 69 percent in the 18 to 44 age group said they go digital, searching websites or seeking coupons on their mobile devices.

For marine dealers, the use of coupons could be worth some effort. Sending out coupons in mailers and email newsletters is an easy option to create. The offers can range from discounts on accessories to special service deals. They can be sent often. And they can take a couple of different tacks.

There’s the simple, straight-discount deals, wherein the shopper gets 20 percent off this item or that service, etc. Then there’s the big discount deal for cash now — for example, offering a $500 spring detailing or commissioning package for $250 if bought now. Hold a planning session with the sales and service teams to create more incentives.

For every deal, time limits (as well as qualifications) should be set. Straight-discount coupons must expire on a set date. For the big deal, the time to purchase the coupon is usually very short, and the coupon also must be used by a set date, although the buyer should never lose credit for the purchase price already paid, even if the coupon expires.

Consumers are clipping their way to savings these days, and retailers in virtually every industry are using coupons to generate business. And with websites, e-newsletters, and customer and prospect email lists, driving business using coupon deals has never been easier.

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